Image retouching – Background Repair

Here is a “background repair” retouch that I did this morning on one of my own photographs.  Looks like an unsightly out of focus branch needed to be fixed here.  Luckily, out of focus areas not intersecting anything of importance can be quick fixes.  In the central pane you can see that I duplicated a section of the clean background and roughly aligned it into position.  On the rightmost frame I have used a few blur techniques to blend the new with the old.

It’d be a shame to let a sharp photograph of a Common Yellowthroat go to waste!

Retouching questions or services needed?  Just ask!

Photoshop Retouching Background

A view of the progression of some photo #restoration and #optimization. Performed in #Photoshop.

Photo Editing: Adding a digital neutral density filter

I made my way to Orange County, New York today to shoot some of the more rustic areas following the scenic snow our area accumulated.  When I am doing landscape photography, my goal (aka everyone’s goal) is to capture as much dynamic range as possible in the raw file.  This is accomplished by ETTR (exposing to the right), and getting the brightness histogram as far right as possible without blowing the highlights out of the gamut.

The raw file will always be lacking in contrast before post-processing, but generally a global Curves Adjustment Layer will do the trick for me.  As we can see below, there is a bit of cloud detail in the sky in my original shot, but in general it does appear featureless.  Featureless sky = boring photo.  To give the sky a little pop, I added a new blank layer in the digital darkroom, and simply did a directional fill with the gradient tool (black to transparent).  I also changed the layer blending mode to “overlay”.  Results below.

Mostly unprocessed view, note that I adjusted the horizon and had to “add canvas” after a slight rotation.

NYS scenery photo

Not a great finished product, but it is a start. #Composition mostly adheres the the rule of thirds, and I positioned my #camera to have weeds fill in some negative space in the snowy foreground.

My finalized jpeg for web view.  Digital ND filter superimposed over sky, and foreground repaired after slight rotation.

NYS Winter Fine Art Photo

#NYS Winter scenery photo. Taken handheld with the #Tamron 16-300mm VC PZD lens and the #Canon EOS T5 #DSLR

Another successful outing with the new Tamron All-In-One lens.

HDR Post-processing: Pond in Winter

I’ve been using the auto-bracket feature on my Canon EOS T5 Rebel a bit lately.  I believe some cameras allow you to take up to 5 bracketed shots with the push of a button, but the T5 is limited to 3 shots.  The intervals of the related under and over exposed shots are however, customizable.  I normally distance each photo by about 2/3 stops of light.  While still regularly checking the histogram on my LCD, the bracketing feature is particularly helpful for daily landscape photography, where highlight areas are easily clipped.

Below is an HDR image created from one such bracket of exposures.  I left most of the HDR sliders in default positions and this created a fairly natural looking jpeg.  I could be imagining things, but I still think I see slight halos on the trees in the horizon though…. For further comparison I’ve included a split screen comparison with my single best frame against the HDR output.  This makes it easier to see how detail was gained in both the sky and foreground.

HDR Landscape Photo

3 bracketed raw files are merged together for a winter landscape photo in #NewJersey. Photo taken with the #Tamron 16-300mm VC lens and the #Canon EOS T5.

Natural looking HDR photo

Left side of image is from processing a single #raw #photo as best I could. Right side is from an automated #HDR processing of three raws.

New Jersey Nature Photography: Icicles and Droplet

I stumbled upon the challenge of trying to make a sharp capture of water droplets falling off an icicle today.  The timing required a little observation and a lot of luck.  To freeze the action, I had to increase the light sensitivity of my Canon Rebel by selecting ISO 6400.  Naturally, this is going to introduce a great deal of chromatic and luminance noise.  I did some selective post-processing via manual selections and multiple layers to optimize my file for print and web.  Heavy noise reduction was only run on the background layer and my second pass of sharpening was only applied to the foreground.

Detail crop showing selective post-processing:

layered image editing

A melting droplet is suspended in sharply air, but a lot of random grain has been generated. This cropped-in view only has my #selective #sharpening and #noise reduction applied on the left side.

My finalized jpeg for web usage:

Winter icicle photography
Time briefly stands still… for 1/3200 of a second in this #photo of a melting icicle. Photo taken at ISO 6400 on a #Canon T5 with the #Tamron 16-300mm VC lens.

Image Optimization for Wildlife Photography: Common Yellowthroat

I do get occasionally get asked about my post-processing workflow.  I am an advocate of “getting it right in the camera”, and most of my photographs are presented in a straightforward manner so I spend a trivial amount of time in the “digital darkroom”.  When shooting at higher ISO’s (800 and above), I find the need to apply a little extra TLC to photos.

post-processing before and after

The left side is my photo with my default RAW conversion settings applied. The right side is my final optimized image with additional selective noise reduction and sharpening performed for maximum image quality.

The above side by side view shows my typical RAW file with default settings applied (very light noise reduction and sharpening).  On the right I have gently applied more noise reduction on only the background, and additional sharpening on the bird’s face only.  This took me less than 5 minutes to prepare my photo for web and basic print usage.

NJ bird photo

One of our most common Warblers in New Jersey, here is a striking male in his typical habitat. Photographed with the Tamron SP 150-600mm Lens and the Canon EOS 7D.

The photo above is finalized JPEG for online presentation.  Cropping would increase the apparent signal-to-noise ratio of the image, and I did not feel a crop was in order for this shot.

This male Common Yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas) was photographed at the Troy Meadows Natural Area in New Jersey.  Photography equipment used includes: Tamron SP 150-600mm VC Lens, Canon EOS 7D DSLR, Manfrotto 055x ProB tripod.

Exposure info: 1/160 F/8 ISO 800

Optimizing Photo Contrast for the Web: Creek and Fallen Leaves

In my fairly early years of photography, I got caught with the ETTR bug.  Is that a fatal virus?  Nope.  ETTR is an acronym which stands for Expose To The Right.  This ideology is based on the idea that a bright exposure with a histogram pushed as for towards the right (brightness side of histo) is the path to maximum image quality in long run. When exposing to the right, a user wants to make sure the highlights are not clipped or blown out of gamut.  Lost highlights can’t be recovered much, there are no x’s and o’s on your memory card for your camera or computer to look at.  On the flip side, having a slight overexposure of your shadow areas DOES bring in extra information in the pixels.

RAW PhotoShop workflow

A side-by-side comparison of my post-processed file versus the SOOC shot.

The above illustration hopefully shows how I “season to taste” on a landscape photo that I took yesterday.  Setting the black level and white level can be a matter of personal preference, there are no hard-set rules.  I like my pictures to tell a believable tale by retaining the integrity of the scene but I also want plenty of contrast so that my upload or print will “pop”.  For this particular photo I used the Curves tool to bring the dark areas from a medium tonality to a darker tonality.  This provides greater separation between the highlights, midtones, and shadows.  I’ve also added a slight vignette which helped to “burn in” some bright corners from the original photo.

NJ Landscape Photographer

Optimized image, originally exposed to the right. Taken with my Tamron 18-270mm VC Lens and my Canon EOS M 18.0 MP Compact Systems Camera. Manfrotto tripod used for stability and a 3-stop Neutral Density filter was used to lengthen exposure time.

Finalized photo is above.  A landscape nature frame taken in Pennsylvania.  The equipment used includes a Tamron 18-270mm VC Lens, a Canon EOS M Camera, a 3-stop Neutral Density Filter, and a Manfrotto Tripod.  Metadata: 2.5s F/13 ISO 100, 27mm in Manual Mode.

My Personal View on Post-Processing

I read a lot about “must have” post-processing programs and plug-ins to “get the most out of photography”. I think the trends like adding background textures, post-processing blurs, and over-the-top HDR programs will eventually go the way of the Dodo.

Do you think Ansel Adams would have benefited from importing someone else’s floral patterns behind his powerful mountain images with often ominous storm clouds? Probably not. Did he go beyond basic post-processing? Not really (mostly what I consider rudimentary contrast enhancements). Does his photography have some of the greatest longevity we’ve yet to see? Of course!

Bird photo

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

If I don’t see semblance of a compelling image through my viewfinder or in the Camera Raw preview, I simply move on, and try to compose better next time I shoot.

Just my two cents.

Product Photography

Occasionally I dabble in home product photography for practice and portfolio’s sake. The black background here is a black muslin that I ordered a while ago. Unfortunately, the flash did reveal a decent amount of texture within that black, however a post-processing adjustment of increasing the black levels made for a pretty easy fix.

Jewelry Photography